SIALKOT: For once in a year, instead of trading machine gun fire and mortar shells, Chenab Rangers and Indian Border Security Force men exchanged sweets to mark the festival of popular local saint Baba Chamliyan Wala Sarkar.
The three-day annual urs celebrations of Baba Chamliyan began on Thursday at a far-off bordering village, Tulsipur-Charwah, near Zero Point of Sialkot Working Boundary.
Baba Dalip Singh Manhas, popularly known as Baba Chamliyan, lived about 300 years ago and came to be revered by people because of his saintly qualities and spiritual powers.
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A special ceremony was held at no-man’s land along the working boundary. Senior officials of the Chenab Rangers presided over the ceremony. Later, the participants handed over a chaddar to the officials of Indian Border Security Force (BSF) for laying it as wreath on the grave of the Baba Chamliyan in the neighbouring Ramgarh Sector in the Samba district of India.
Hundreds of people belonging to the entire Sialkot region braved overcast skies and light rain to come to the Zero Point to participate in the annual mela.
The people, including women, children, youth and elderly, reached there after travelling long distances on motorcycles, cars, buses, horse carts, rickshaws, tractor trolleys and even by foot. An extraordinary hustle-bustle of people was witnessed along the Sialkot working boundary.
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Thousands of devotees on either side of the border participate in the separate fairs held every year in Pakistan and India. The Rangers coordinate with the BSF in providing holy soil and water known as shakkar and sherbet from the shrine to the devotees on the Pakistani side.
A sea of humanity with the hope of peace was witnessed along the borders. “Borders have divided the land into two parts but the blessings of Baba Chamliyan still enables us to see each other due to this festival,” Muhammad Asif, a resident of Sialkot city, told the visiting newsmen from Sialkot. He said that no one wants borders setting humanity apart.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2015.